David J. Burns, D.B.A.
Mentor: Peter Bycio, Ph.D. (Management and Entrepreneurship)
Marketing involves exchanges. The activities in marketing products, services, and ideas are examined within a framework of customer management. Topics include global marketing environment, market analysis and segmentation, consumer behavior, product development and management, pricing, promotion, and distribution. Marketing is examined from its role as a central function of business and non-profit organizations, and from its dominant role in a market economy.
Students: Graduate students (without recent business undergraduate degrees) very early in their programs.
As an outcome of the thirty-second General Congregation (GC32), Decree Four, Our Mission Today: The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice, was published. Although some confusion existed over the meaning of the word "justice" in Decree Four, most agree that it includes social justice - "to change the structures of society which were depriving people of their human rights" (Tripole, S.J. 1994, p. 9). Calvez, S.J. (1991) states that although economic injustices are particularly pervasive, injustice includes any threats to "human life and its quality." Similarly, Dulles, S.J. interprets justice as "the dismantling of unjust social structures, to conscientization, and to the building of a new and better society" (1989, p. 21). Indeed, Tripole, S.J. states "human beings cannot enter into union with God unless they enter into union with one another, and the degree to which they are alienated from one another will be reflected in an analogous alienation from God" (1994, p. 55). Hence, a commitment to justice is an integral part of evangelization as can be noted in the life of Ignatius. Justice, therefore, includes social justice, but it includes much more - the furthering of social justice leads to justice in all things.
The top item of the social justice agenda concerns the gap between the rich and the poor (Dorr, S.J. 1991). Although financial resources are obviously an important consideration, a focus merely on the material provides an incomplete picture of individual well-being. Instead, the "poor" can be viewed to be those who do not possess the resources, financial and other, to experience life to the full - they are the oppressed, economically, socially, educationally, or emotionally, and consequently, are those who are prevented from experiencing the freedom life affords. Tripole, S.J. states that the Society's goals should be "the service of faith through the promotion of a Christian and human culture" (1994, p. 128), where culture is defined as "the way people think, how they understand themselves, why they do what they do, and how they seek fulfillment in their lives" (1994, p. 129). The project addresses this issue. Particularly, in the culture's rush to maximize wealth, what is truly of value is being lost. Instead of freeing ourselves from economic deprivation, we are imprisoning ourselves to the very things that were supposed to free us.
Marketing, Well-Being, and Justice
Unquestionably, the exercise of marketing has added to the material welfare of modern society. It has significantly increased the availability and variety of goods, and it has significantly decreased product costs. As a result of marketing, consumers have access to, and can enjoy goods that could not be foreseen anytime in history. The global percentage of people living in abject poverty (though unquestionably a major social issue), is lower today than perhaps it ever has been. Individuals suffering from hunger (also still a major problem which requires concerted effort to combat) is also at historical lows as a percentage of the population. Several have equated these manifestations of marketing as an improvement in society's quality of life. Is this contention true? Has the increased availability of goods actually increased individuals' quality of life?
There is a widespread belief in our culture that happiness, or one's quality of life, is a function of the quantity of things that one possesses. This mentality is present in the widespread belief that happiness is based on one's income, or one's ability to acquire possessions and experiences without hindrance. Empirical research, however, paints a different picture. Numerous studies clearly show that once survival needs are met, additional income and additional possessions do little to improve one's level of happiness. The lack of a positive relationship between possessions/income and happiness raises two questions: 1) If possessions do not bring happiness what does? and 2) How has the apparent myth "increased possessions is the true road to happiness" become so ingrained in society's consciousness?
Empirical studies have left little doubt that few factors affect an individual's level of happiness for longer than a few days. The only issue that empirical research repeatedly shows to have the ability to affect an individual's long-term happiness is the existence of long-term close relationships with others (family, friends, and one's God). Interestingly, these are the very relationships which many individuals will so readily trade-off for the opportunity to make more money to acquire more things with the empty hope of achieving the sought-after goal of increased happiness. The supposed relationship between possessions and happiness, however, is well-communicated within today's society. This relationship is formed, or at least is significantly strengthened, through marketers' use of non-market need pairing. Non-market need pairing involves establishing a link between a particular marketer's product and a specific non-market need in the consumer's mind. (Non-market needs are those needs which cannot be directly satisfiable through the market, such as feelings of belonging, companionship, happiness, etc.). When the pairing is successful, consumers will view the specific non-market need in conjunction with the product - the product will be viewed as a means for fulfilling the non-market need. The key to this pairing is that the linking is not natural, but contrived. Indeed, the product is associated with a need which it, in fact, cannot truly fulfill.
A Brief History
Contrary to popular thought, a consumer culture amongst the masses has not always existed. In pre-modern times, product acquisition was not a priority, or even a possibility, for most. When excess resources were acquired (more than that required for subsistence living), the excess resources were typically saved or were used to acquire additional leisure time - not to acquire additional products. Furthermore, during this time, one's self was often passively assigned. Everyone knew who they were and everyone knew who others were, and there was often little chance for significant changes in the self. Relationships with others (family and community) and with God (religion) provided the basis for the self. As a result, identity problems were virtually nonexistent.
With the industrial revolution and the rise of modernism, however, the permanency and the level of influence which family, community, and religion exerted on individuals declined significantly. The social and geographic mobility afforded (or mandated) by the industrialization process acted to slowly sever individuals' ties with family, disrupted entire communities, and caused many to question the need for religion. Furthermore, with a growth in the importance of science, dependence upon a Supreme Being seemed to become unnecessary. Under modernism, individuals were forced to make or develop their own identity - it was no longer merely inherited. The basis of the self also changed. The self was left to be fulfilled through transient, physical realities, primarily through one's own actions - personal achievement, and to a greater extent, the acts of acquisition and consumption. Indeed, the marketplace became a primary channel through which a self could be acquired. Individuals began to become what they owned. One's self then, could often be viewed as the result of an explicit choice which was often fulfilled through shopping and consumption activities. This marked the origins of the consumer culture.
More recently, modernism has been replaced with postmodernism. In a postmodern environment, the presence of relatively permanent anchors upon which to base the self have vanished. Actually, in postmodernism, the self, as a single concrete reality, simply does not exist. Instead of speaking of a singular self, it is more common to refer to multiple roles or images, where individuals are encouraged to consume symbols consistent with the role or image desired at any particular time. The self, therefore, exists merely to display - to display the articles which portray a desired image. As a result, consumption becomes the defining feature of postmodern societies and the consumer culture reigns supreme. In postmodern societies, the acquisition of physical possessions is viewed as the primary, if not the only, source of individuality, happiness, and satisfaction. Within postmodernism then, marketing has achieved an unforeseen level of societal significance. Instead of focusing on identifying and meeting consumer wants and needs, the focus is instead on providing consumers with the building blocks necessary to build personal images and to construct desired realities. The logical outcome then, is a focus on pleasure and on attempts to acquire it during this earthly life - clearly a primary quality of today's culture. Similarly, as pleasure in itself proves to be insufficient to meet the fundamental needs of individuals, a logical outcome is a growth of hopelessness and despair, again common qualities in today's culture.
All indications seem to point to fatal problems in the basis of a consumer culture - the consumer culture appears to be unable to deliver what it has promised. Although it has very successfully increased standards of living beyond initial comprehension and has provided products which offer forms of comfort and entertainment alternatives which were inconceivable only a few years ago, it has been unable to bring increased happiness and increased fulfillment to people's lives. The continuing desire to increase consumption necessitates ever increasing levels of income. The need for ever-increasing levels of income in turn, leads to the need to maximize time spent in work activities, usually at the expense of leisure and social activities. This is why, even in the face of significant gains in productivity, the amount of time spent working has risen steadily and substantially over the past forty years. We have become prisoners to the need to make greater incomes - relationships and the needs of others have been cast aside in the strivings to obtain more belongings.
In summary, Tripole, S.J. speaks of our students: "They have been influenced by our society to such an extant that they take it for granted that life is fulfilled in terms of the values our secular culture provides them, the values that are largely a product of our production-consumption society. In that society, human value is defined by the amount of money made and the degree of power and the kind of reputation enjoyed: greed is accepted as a legitimate human virtue, and one's own needs take precedence over the welfare of the community" (1994, p. 132). Tripole, S.J. further states that service activities, although valuable, have little effect on the point-of-view of students - "In spite of the efforts at justice, the basic structures remain untouched, ... our understanding of who we are, what the meaning of life is, and where we are going remains the same" (1994, p. 135). In addition to not being in a position to attend to the justice and faith of others, students themselves as prisoners - prisoners to a mindset which prevents them from experiencing true happiness and which prevents them from truly helping others in need. "What is necessary, then, is to change the inner lives of people, to restructure their dominant motivating values, the values by which they formulate their own criteria for self-fulfillment" (Triple, S.J. 1994, p.137).
The course component of this project is subject-based. It consists of integrating a new content section into the "understanding consumers" part of the MKTG 801 (Marketing Concepts) course. This course is one of the first courses taken by students entering the MBA program. It is required of all students entering the program who have not pursued a business undergraduate degree. As such, the students generally have no background in marketing or in understanding the consumer and the consumer culture. The course component includes the following issues:
1. Provide an historical basis of the development of a consumer culture (to break the commonly held myth that the consumer culture has always existed). This includes an examination of the alternative conceptions of the substance and meaning of life that have been dominant in the past and the basis of each.
2. Develop an understanding of today's postmodern consumer culture, its impact on the individual, and its inability to positively affect an individual's well-being. This includes 1) truly understanding the role of marketing in the consumer culture and the process of non-market need pairing, and 2) gaining an understanding of the prevalent product-based identity structure.
3. Provide students with a basis for understanding the role of products in their own personal lives and to help them be able to critically analyze the effects that marketing activities have on culture and on the lives of individuals. This is accomplished through extensive discussion and reflection in class.
4. Develop an ability to examine marketing activities and choices within the context of the effect that they have on the lives of individuals in society.
An explicit object of the course component of this project is to develop students' reasoning abilities - to provide students with the insight necessary to truly evaluate the outcome of marketing activities and choices on society.
The effectiveness of the course component in conveying knowledge is assessed during the midterm exam.
Whether the course is effective in affecting student's attitudes and opinions is assessed by a before-and-after questionnaire (described below).
The scholarly component of this project directly relates to the course component of this project. Specifically, the scholarly component of this project examines the effect that the course component has on students' views toward money and belongings in their personal lives. This is accomplished by a pretest and posttest. On the first day of class, students are immediately required to complete a questionnaire that includes scales to measure the following constructs:
- Love of Money
- Possession Satisfaction Index
- Time Orientation Toward Money
- Ethics and Social Responsibility
- Prestige Sensitivity
- Desire for Unique Consumer Products
- Need to Belong
- Social Connectedness/Social Assurance
- Importance of Connectedness
Students are required to complete the same questionnaire immediately prior to the final exam to permit an assessment of the effect that the course may have on individuals' attitudes and beliefs.
Attempt #1 801-81A
Several students were very defensive.
Question on the midterm exam (1/4 of the exam) went very well - students knew the material.
Problems were encountered - students were unwilling to participate without compensation.
Attempt #2 801-84B
Revised discussion went very well.
Question on the midterm exam (1/4 of the exam) went very well - students knew the material.
"Before" and "after" questionnaire administration completed (points were awarded).
Although the sample size was very small (22), t-tests were run to test whether differences exist in the "before" and "after" responses (See Table 1). Significant (at the .05 level) differences were observed for four of the 25 pairings. As a result of the course,
- Students were more likely to consider money as an indicator of success.
- Students were more likely to believe that success equals possessions.
- Students were less likely to be envious of other's possessions.
- Students were less likely to believe that social responsibility and profitability are compatible.
The results were surprising. Although it is difficult to draw conclusions from the relatively small sample size, in three of the four instances where significant results were observed, results were opposite of that hypothesized. This result may indicate the need to adjust the classroom component of the course.
Table 1: Results
|Love of Money|
|Possession Satisfaction Index|
|What Possessions Can Do||.794||.436|
|What Possessions Cannot Do||-1.121||.275|
|Success Equals Possessions||-2.241||.036|
|More is Better||-1.517||.144|
|Time Orientation Toward Money|
|Ethics and Social Responsibility|
|Social Responsibility & Profitability||4.454||.000|
|Desire for Unique Consumer Product|
|Need to Belong|
|Importance of Connectedness|
Materialism and Macro Marketing
Mee-Shew Cheung, Ph.D.
Mentor: Philip Glasgo, Ph.D. (Finance)
Marketing 300: 2 sections, 30 students each, Spring 2007.
This course is designed to introduce marketing to the undergraduates who have not formally studied the area previously. It serves as a vehicle by which students can become familiar with the area of marketing. It provides a basis for future study in marketing and a better understanding of the business world and the role which marketing plays therein.
With my participation in the Ignatian Mentoring Program, I made the following changes to incorporate a missiondriven teaching component that stresses the need for discernment and responsible action. With this inclusion, the course content is broadened to a macro level.
Each student is required to turn in a 3 to 5 page paper on his/her understanding of the phenomenon of materialism and his/her thoughts on the topic. For this assignment, students are required to
- visit the library databases such as ABI Inform or Business Source Premier and understand the meaning of the term 'materialism',
- read articles/books/websites (such as 'The World is Flat', 'Micro-lending: Banker to the Poor', the 'Product RED'),
- write a research paper elaborating the implications of materialism for individuals, business organizations, and society as a whole and linking the concept of corporate social responsibility to some of the real world examples in the marketplace.
Lecture & Class Discussions
While lecturing the chapters on Segmentation and Targeting, and Global Marketing, I used the following questions to guide the class discussions:
- Does marketing promote materialism?
- Does the practice of segmentation and targeting create class issues within our society?
- International marketers tend to overlook poverty stricken people in less developed countries. Why is this?
- Can marketing be applied to help lift poverty and improve the quality of life in an impoverished society? How?
Materialism and Ignatian/Jesuit Pedagogy
This teaching component seeks to:
- Involve students to practice critical thinking in understanding the high price of materialism, and linking social responsibility to firms' marketing decisions.
- Inspire students to change our society and the world for the better by engaging them in a discernment process to:
- understand the high price of materialism
- link social responsibility to firms' marketing decisions
- seek ways to break the material values cycle
- focus on values for self-acceptance, good relationships and contributions to the community.
Materialism in economic psychology and consumer research has been defined as "the importance a consumer attaches to worldly possessions" (Belk 1985) or as "an orientation which views material goods and money as important for personal happiness and social progress (Ward and Wackman 1971). Not only are materialists viewed as "driven" to consume more, but they are also seen to focus on the consumption of "status goods" or unique consumer products. The popular notion of materialism also associates materialism with excessive status consciousness, condescension, envy, disregard of others and of social issues, self-centeredness, a lack of principles, possessiveness, insecurity, and interpersonal detachment. Sociologists describe materialism as a personal value that encompasses concern with material things, competitiveness, and emphasis on making profit as opposed to human well-being.
Students met the challenge of this assignment in articulate ways. I present some of the highlights of their responses:
"When individuals in a society are driven by material values, weakened interpersonal connections, disrupted community life, resource depletion and environmental damage result."
"The best ways to break the material values cycle are focusing on values for self-acceptance, fostering good relationships and contributing to community."
"Marketing and materialism go hand in hand. On one side of the argument, marketing is a profitable experience for business as well as helping the consumers to improve their standard of living. On the other hand, marketing and materialism create unattainable goals for the public as well as pushing aside thoughts of inner self-improvement and more toward conformity."
"Perhaps it is about time to forget about possessions and get back to the days where community and family were the most important things in life."
"Marketers have the self-interest in selling their products to consumers because this affects their bottom line. While it is their job, marketers need to act in responsible ways so as not to destroy the social fabric of our culture by shifting all focuses to materialistic concerns."
"Materialism helps economy grow and flourish, but at the same time drives people to unhappiness."
"Materialism in essence is like a drug. It relieves the pain temporarily but offers no promise of a cure." "Before I was exposed to the concept of 'Product RED', I never thought that marketing can be used to impact the world in such a positive and powerful manner."
"International marketers tend to assume that people in the poor nations do not have enough money or business sense to buy or sell products. Thus, marketing is strongly promoted only in the affluent nations, which leads to a worsened situation in materialism in these nations. The affluent nations might be able to enjoy all the branded goods and services, but people in these nations are not necessarily happier."
"The primary goal of business corporations is to maximize shareholder wealth, but perhaps of equal importance is the social responsibility these companies have towards their employees and the areas in which they operate. The world is becoming interconnected, and some countries may be left behind because of their inability to afford products or the inability of their citizens to operate them. Micro-lending and similar concepts have proven they have a positive affect on all participants. Multi-national corporations have the resources and international marketers have the knowledge to present programs and products so as to improve the global standard of living, and not leave any nation behind."
"As multinational corporations play a significant role in improving the standard of living in developing nations, international marketers are called to help promote the product effectively to the right people. All of the programs designed to help the poor, need to be marketed correctly to appeal to the potential beneficiaries. Micro-lending and the One Laptop Per Child are two great examples."
"International marketers need to be ready to help the developing countries establish the best industries in which to invest. Furthermore, marketers are encouraged to look at the product and consider a few questions to see if their products can become a global product: is our product too sophisticated for this new market? How do we make our product image more attractive to a larger segment of the total population? How do we match our product quality and purchasing power to create real and long term demand?"
"As a next generation international marketer and entrepreneur in an era of globalization, I recognize that it is becoming the trend to create new markets and not merely adapt to the existing ones. By creating new markets, international businesses can pave the way for emerging markets and promote economic reform in the poorer nations of the world."
In preparing for this new teaching component, I was challenged to explore new topics to broaden my research agenda. I became interested to research topics on macro marketing and the role of international marketing in a flattened world. I am also planning to incorporate this new teaching component in all other marketing courses that I will be teaching in future semesters.
In conclusion, this added component in M300 was very beneficial to the students and the instructor. During discussion all students agreed that this assignment should be included as part of the course in future years. The assignment was able to instigate a self-reflection by the students as well as the instructor to help them find a new anchor in their life and their career.
Ward, S. and Wackman, D. (1971), "Family and media influences on adolescent consumer learning," Am Behav Scientist, 14, 415-427.
An Investigation of Compulsive Buying in a University Setting
Vishal Kashyap, Ph.D.
Mentor: Peter Bycio, Ph.D. (Management and Entrepreneurship)
Course Information (MKTG 300 -Principles of Marketing):
Marketing involves exchanges. The activities involved in marketing products, services, and ideas are examined within a framework of customer management. Topics include global marketing environment, market analysis and segmentation, consumer behavior, product development and management, pricing, promotion, and distribution. Marketing is examined from its role as a central function of business and non-profit organizations, and from its dominant role in a market economy.
Undergraduate students fulfilling the core of their marketing course requirements. Given that this course is an introduction to marketing, students are not expected to have prior knowledge of marketing in a structured academic format and as such the academic research on compulsive consumption.
Background on Compulsive Consumption Research:
Compulsive buying has been defined as "chronic, repetitive purchasing that becomes a primary response to negative events or feelings" (O'Guinn and Faber 1989). Compulsive consumption has been the focus of consumer researchers since the mid-1980s (Hirschman 1992). Researchers have argued that compulsive buying is conceptually connected to a larger category of compulsive consumption behaviors that include alcoholism, drug abuse, eating disorders, and compulsive gambling (O'Guinn and Faber 1989). In addition, compulsive buyers are characterized by lower self-esteem, higher scores on general measures of compulsivity and a higher propensity for fantasy than the general population. Faber, O'Guinn and Krych (1987) find that several characteristics of compulsive consumption exhibit commonalities with other manifestations of addictive behavior such as (i) the presence of a drive, impulse or urge to engage in the behavior (ii) denial of the harmful consequences of engaging in the behavior, and (iii) repeated failure in attempts to control or modify the behavior.
Effects of Compulsive Buying:
Compulsive buying can have serious implications on, for example, the mental states of the compulsive consumer, personal bankruptcies and credit card debt and the natural environment, among others (Roberts 1998). Compulsive consumers are affected by depression, anxiety, frustration and low self-esteem (Desarbo and Edwards 1992). Increases in personal bankruptcies and credit card debt are other negative consequences of compulsive buying. While compulsive buyers engage in frequent consumption, they might not have the financial wherewithal to pay for their purchases. Credit card debt keeps mounting nationwide and compulsive buying has become more noticeable with the rapid growth of the bank card industry (Faber, O'Guinn and Krych 1987). Further, compulsive buying can have a negative effect on the environment as well. A culture of consumption discourages the assignment of value to environmental concerns and detracts people from involvement in the public domain (Droge and Mackoy 1995).
From a consumer policy perspective, it is important to educate consumers about the potential effects of credit card debt as well as the proper use of credit. Currently most advertising for credit cards appeal to desire for status and instant gratification (Roberts 1998). Adolescents and compulsive buyers are particularly vulnerable to such appeals (Faber, O'Guinn and Krych 1987). Marketers could refrain from aggressive marketing campaigns targeted at such vulnerable segments of the population.
Compulsive Buying and Ignatian and Jesuit Pedagogy:
The young adults of today have been reared in a rapidly changing world where mass consumption and instant gratification are common. An understanding of the incidence of compulsive consumption and its negative consequences can assist such young adults in making prudent choices. Specifically, given that graduates from the Williams College of Business may choose careers where they might be in charge of developing and executing marketing campaigns, it becomes important that such potential marketers are aware of the effects of targeted marketing campaigns. An understanding of compulsive buying will assist in fulfilling the objectives of Jesuit and Ignatian pedagogy in the following ways:
- Prepare students for lifelong learning, by raising awareness about the potentially harmful effects of compulsive buying that students can use in their careers later when designing marketing campaigns.
- Develop responsible citizens who are sensitive to the needs of our times by understanding that marketing programs targeted at vulnerable segments can have the effects of promoting unsustainable consumption habits among such segments. Particularly with an increase in personal bankruptcies and an increase in credit card debt, the need of the times is to promote responsible, not irresponsible consumption.
- Inspire graduates to change society and the world for the better by engaging them in a discernment process concerning unsustainable consumption both among themselves and the populations that they serve and thereby refrain from compulsive buying themselves. This also ties in with the Ignatian ideal of 'discernment'.
Course Component and Objective:
The course component consisted of integrating a content component into one section of the MKTG 300 (Principles of Marketing) course for the Spring 2006 semester. The instructor was responsible for teaching two sections of MKTG 300 for the first time, with each section enrolling 28 and 27 students respectively. The course is the first marketing course that is taken by students in the Williams College of Business and so students have limited prior knowledge of marketing tools and techniques. The course component consisted of a short research project to promote the understanding of compulsive buying and to test for the effectiveness of the new component. The syllabus for the course was designed keeping this component in mind and the introduction of the component was a specific outcome of the Ignatian Mentoring Program. Specifically a study design was executed across two sections of the Principles of Marketing course to achieve the goals of understanding the effectiveness of and the implications of introducing a course component on compulsive buying.
Participants. Approximately 30 participants in each section of the MKTG 300 course were asked to complete a scale on Compulsive Buying (Table 1) that was introduced by Faber and O'Guinn (1992). This is a reliable and valid scale that has been used in multiple prior studies on compulsive buying.
Method and Procedure. Participants were administered the scale twice over the duration of the semester. While one section was treated as the test group, the other section was treated as a control group. In the first administration, both the groups were asked to fill out the questionnaire on the first day of class. Subsequently, the syllabus of one section of the course with the integrated component, where the students were required to complete a short research project (approximately 2 pages) on their understanding of the effects of compulsive buying and their thoughts on the topic. This was the test group. The control group was asked to complete a project on designing a marketing plan that had nothing to do with compulsive consumption. On the day both the projects were due in class, the students were administered the compulsive buying questionnaire for the second time. As a manipulation check, towards the end of the questionnaire, an additional 4 items were included (e.g. "I am very aware of the consequences of compulsive buying") anchored on a 5-point scale by 'Strongly Agree' to 'Strongly Disagree'. Table 2 presents the complete list of manipulation check items. Differences within groups will be observed both on the scale items as well as the manipulation check items. The group with the research project paper on compulsive buying is expected to exhibit a higher level of awareness on the phenomenon of compulsive buying with regards to the manipulation check. Overall, it is expected that there will not be a significant difference between the two groups during the first administration of the compulsive buying questionnaire. After the test group completes the course requirements on the research paper, it is expected that the mean scores on compulsive buying will be significantly different between the two groups on the second administration of the compulsive buying questionnaire.
With the first administration of the compulsive buying questionnaire, participants indicated on 5-point scales that they were not compulsive buyers (MExperiemntal = 1.85, MControl = 1.88). (See Table 1.) All scales were reverse coded. The difference was not significant across the two groups t (44) = -.171, p > .05. A principal component analysis with Varimax rotation of the four manipulation check items indicated that that the four variables in the measure of awareness of compulsive buying loaded onto a single factor (eigenvalue = 2.98). This measure of awareness showed a relatively high level of reliability for a new scale (Î± = .85). With the second administration, the manipulation check showed that the test group displayed a higher awareness of compulsive buying (MExperiemntal = 4.70) than the control group (MControl = 4.24). This difference was significant t(47) = 3.36, p < .01. However, the means of the two groups with regard to their compulsive buying behavior patterns (MExperiemntal = 1.84, MControl = 1.95)did not vary significantly, (t(47) = -.77, p > .05. ). Table 2 presents a comparison of the two groups with regard to their compulsive buying behaviors and the manipulation check items used in the study. (See Table 2.)
As predicted, we found no difference between the compulsive buying patterns of both the groups prior to their completing the research project. This is consistent with our expectations. Scores between the two groups after the completion of the research project were not significantly different. While not consistent with our predictions, this is not very surprising. The compulsive buying questionnaire measures behavior, and given the relatively short time between project completion and the subjects responding to the questionnaire, any change in behavior that can be attributed to the research project might be arbitrary. However, what is interesting is that the awareness of compulsive buying varies significantly between the two groups that completed different projects. The group which completed a project on compulsive buying shows higher awareness of compulsive buying than does the group which completed a general marketing project. This awareness is indicative of the impact of the project on student's perception of compulsive buying. Awareness can be critical in the formation of attitudes (Priluck and Till 2004). As such the significantly different awareness scores between the two groups suggest that this is an important step in the formation of attitudes which might have an effect on student behavior. The inclusion of course components in classrooms that can emphasize and promote awareness of phenomena consistent with Ignatian pedagogy can be important in shaping student attitudes and may hold promise in promoting the objectives of the IMP program. This exploratory study enables us to measure the effectiveness of course components that are introduced into the classroom. The measurement of such classroom components has the potential of informing the instructor about the use and effectiveness of such components. Any future work should try to extend this study across multiple sections of a class. A larger sample size as well as a longitudinal approach in which students attitudes are measured at multiple points can also aid in furthering understanding of the effects of the introduction of such course components.
Desarbo, Wayne S. and Elizabeth Edwards (1996), "Typologies of Compulsive Buying Behavior: A Constrained Clusterwise Regression Approach," Journal of Consumer Psychology, 5(3), 231 - 262.
Droge, Coreila and Robert D. Mackoy (1995), "The Consumption Culture Versus Environmentalism: Bridging Value Systems with Environmental Marketing," in Proceedings of the 1995 Marketing and Public Policy Conference, eds. P.S. Ellen and P. Kaufmann, Atlanta, GA: Marketing and Society Special Interest Group: 227 - 232.
Faber, Ronald J., Thomas C. O'Guinn and Raymond Krych (1987), "Compulsive Consumption," in Advances in Consumer Research, Vol. 14, ed. M. Wallendorf and P. Anderson, Provo, UT: Association for Consumer Research, 132-135.
Hirschman, Elizabeth C. (1992), "The Consciousness of Addiction: Toward a General Theory of Compulsive Consumption," Journal of Consumer Research, 19 (September), 155 - 179.
O'Guinn, Thomas C. and Ronald J. Faber (1989), "Compulsive Buying: A Phenomenological Explanation," Journal of Consumer Research, 16 (September), 147 - 157.
Priluck, Randi and Brian D. Till (2004), "The Role of Contingency Awareness, Involvement, and Need for Cognition in Attitude Formation," Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 32 (3), 329-344.
Roberts, James A. (1998), "Compulsive Buying Among College Students: An Investigation of Its Antecedents, Consequences and Implications for Public Policy," The Journal of Consumer Affairs, 32 (2), 295 - 319.
Table 1: Compulsive Buying Scale Items
1. Please indicate how much you agree or disagree with each of the following items. Place an X on the line which best indicates how you feel about each statement.
|Strongly agree||Some what disagree||Neither agree nor disagree||Some what disagree||Strongly disagree|
|a. If I have any money left at the end of a payÂ period, I just have to spend it.||___||___||___||___||___|
2. Please indicate how often you have done each of the following things by placing an X on the appropriate line.
|a. Felt others would be horrified if they knew of my spending habits.||___||___||___||___||___|
|b. Bought things even though I couldn't afford them.||___||___||___||___||___|
|c. Wrote a check when I knew that I didn't have enough money in the bank to cover it.||___||___||___||___||___|
|d. Bought myself something in order to make myself feel better.||___||___||___||___||___|
|e. Felt anxious or nervous on days I didn't go shopping.||___||___||___||___||___|
|f. Made only the minimum payments on my credit cards.||___||___||___||___||___|
Table 2: Mean Comparison Between Groups
|Test Group||Control Group|
|t(d.f.), p||Pre Test
|1a.||If I have any money left at the end of a pay period, I just have to spend it.||2.04||2.12||.28 (44)||1.95||2.20||-.22 (47)|
|2a.||Felt others would be horrified if they new of my spending habits.||2.13||2.17||.00 (44)||2.13||2.36||-.76 (47)|
|2b.||Bought things even though I couldn't afford them.||2.17||2.04||-.65 (44)||2.35||2.20||-.61 (47)|
|2c.||Wrote a check when I knew that I didn't have enough money in the bank to cover it.||1.17||1.21||.35 (44)||1.13||1.08||1.10 (47)|
|2d.||Bought myself something in order to make myself feel better.||2.91||2.79||.95 (44)||2.70||2.68||.37 (47)|
|2e.||Felt anxious or nervous on days I didn't go shopping.||1.26||1.25||.30 (44)||1.22||1.20||.37 (47)|
|2f.||Made only the minimum payments on my credit cards.||1.27||1.33||-1.59 (44)||1.65||1.96||-2.21 (46)**|
|Overall Mean||1.86||1.85||-.17 (44)||1.88||1.95||-.78 (47)|
|3a.||I am aware of the consequences of compulsive buying.||4.50||4.08||1.91 (47)|
|3b.||I understand the meaning of compulsive buying.||4.38||4.36||3.41 (47)**|
|3c.||I understand the concept of compulsive buying.||4.79||4.28||3.41 (47)**|
|3d.||I am aware of the significance of compulsive buying.||4.67||4.24||2.75 (47)**|
|Overall Mean||4.70||4.24||3.36 (47)**|
Reflection into Students' Views on CSR as Consumers
Russell Lacey, Ph.D.
Mentor: Michele Matherly, PhD (Accountancy)
The emergence of corporate social responsibility (CSR) reflects the widely held perspective that firms that enjoy enormous power in terms of controlling the bulk of society's resources have an ethical and social responsibility to go beyond economic and regulatory imperatives. Broadly defined, CSR represents a firm's activities and status relative to its societal or stakeholder obligations (Brown & Dacin, 1997). As a social bonding source, CSR represents a multi-dimensional reflection of its corporate values, including those shared with consumers of its products and services. Some of the basic tenets of CSR include giving back to the community, respecting the environment, being good to your employees and partners, and to do no harm. Despite the unprecedented lack of trust in the corporate world, John Mackey, CEO and founder of Whole Foods posits that "Well-run, values-centered businesses can contribute to humankind in more tangible ways than any other organization in society." (Mackey & Sisodia, 2013, p. xi).
CSR and Ignatian and Jesuit Pedagogy
Personal reflection of the potential value of CSR on society in relationship to individual student discernment will assist in fulfilling the Jesuit and Ignatian pedagogy. Moreover, an understanding of the prevalence of CSR and its effects of individual consumer behavior may serve to inspire students to utilize corporate resources to improve society by engaging them in a reflective process concerning CSR and its relationship with individual consumer values in shaping current managerial perspectives and/or those organizations they will serve in the future.
Given CSR's growing prominence in contemporary business practices, the primary purpose of this teaching and learning classroom exercise is to investigate how CSR perceptions are shaped by students' expectations. This student discernment activity is influenced by the Motivator-Hygiene Theory (Herzberg, et al. 1959) and explores the role of CSR as a motivating factor and/or as a hygiene business requirement. Fredrick Herzberg developed a two-factor theory that distinguishes dissatisfiers (factors that cause dissatisfaction) from satisfiers (factors that cause satisfaction). In line with this theory, marketers should avoid sources of dissatisfaction that might harm a brand and identify sources of satisfaction that please customers and supply them. Students practice discernment by looking into their own feelings about CSR. Specifically, students are asked to consider whether CSR serves as a personally motivating factor for brand allegiance and/or acts as a hygiene factor. When CSR is viewed as a hygiene factor, brands are less likely to be rewarded for their CSR efforts but rather insufficient CSR levels would work to weaken a consumer's attitudes toward the brand.
Marketing Course Student Profiles
This project took place during the Spring 2013 semester across the following three marketing classes: (1) MKTG 325-Services Marketing, (2) MKTG 600-Marketing Strategy, and (3) MKTG 700-Marketing Concepts & Strategy. By including undergraduate marketing students as well as graduate students both at an MBA and EMBA level, the activities and intellectual discourse offers students in various points of their education and professional career to personally reflect on the impact of CSR on society. The inclusion of 71 participants across all three classes also provides an unusually diverse group of students in terms of age, education, and work experiences from which to draw from and compare. The number of participants, average age and male/female gender representation for the three corresponding marketing courses just highlighted are: (1) MKTG 325 = 27 participants, 20.8 years old, 63% male/37% female; (2) MKTG 600 = 31, 27.8, 58%/42%; and (3) MKTG 700 = 13, 39.4, 69%/31%.
Methods and Procedures
A brief CSR attitudinal and perceptions survey was administered prior to classroom discussion for each class: MKTG 325, MKTG 600, and MKTG 700. The CSR survey was comprised of Likert-type scales (e.g., 1=strongly disagree to 7=strongly agree) to assess students' CSR perceptions of four leading brands (Proctor & Gamble, Kroger, Starbucks, and Google), in addition to their favorite brand (identified by the participant), and their respective attitudes about CSR as a motivator and as a hygiene factor. The brands included in the study were selected because students, ranging from undergraduate to EMBA, would be very familiar with them, although perhaps not as familiar with their CSR activities.
The Lichtenstein et al. (2004) five-item measure of CSR Perceptions assessed individual views of a brand's involvement in corporate giving, including its support of non-profit organizations. Given the wide variety of CSR initiatives, this scale was selected because it encompassed a broad view of CSR as defined in this study. In order to capture the respective potential roles of "CSR as Motivator" and "CSR as Hygiene Factor", new measures were used to reflect the study's duality theoretical perspective. Table 1 provides a listing of the multi-scale measures used in this research along with sound evidence of their respective reliability and validity properties.
After completion of the survey, I shared some research I have done in this area and used both the survey and research overview to serve as a springboard for class discussion about their thoughts about CSR, including its role and importance toward strengthening customer relationships. Classroom discussions probed for whether or not students personally believe that corporations have an obligation to engage in CSR. Of particular emphasis was learning how, if at all, CSR practices individually impact student's attitudes toward brands, including the degree to which CSR practices strengthen brand loyalty due to their respective views of CSR as a motivator or hygiene factor.
CSR Survey Results
In aggregate (n=71), students are more apt to have a positive association of the CSR efforts of their favorite brand (µ=5.29). EMBA students (µ=6.09) report statistically significantly higher CSR perceptions of their favorite brand in comparison to undergraduate students (µ=5.14; p=.005) and MBA students (µ=5.08; p=.002). No differences are observed between undergraduate students and MBA students. See Table 2. At a group mean construct level, students are more likely to see that CSR functions as a hygiene factor (µ=4.17) as opposed as a motivator (µ=3.75) on their favorite brands. Despite a highly significant difference (p<.0001) found between the motivator and hygiene factors, both constructs received a relatively neutral mean score (on a 7-point scale, 4=neither agree nor disagree).
Table 2 also compares "CSR as Motivator" mean scores of the undergraduate (µ=3.87), MBA (µ=3.26), and EMBA (µ=4.64) student participants, EMBA students are more likely to view CSR as a motivator factor than MBA students, at the p=.005 level of significance. Much weaker evidence (p=.08) is seen between the undergraduate and EMBA students, with non-significant differences between the undergraduate and MBA student groups. Similarly, when evaluating "CSR as Hygiene Factor" mean values of the undergraduate (µ=4.31), MBA (µ=3.72), and EMBA (µ=4.95) student groups, EMBA students are shown as significantly more likely (p=.02) to view CSR as a hygiene factor than MBA students. Only directional evidence (p=.07) is seen between the undergraduate and MBA students and non-significant differences are reported between undergraduate marketing and EMBA student participants.
As a post hoc test, regression analysis was conducted to examine CSR's respective motivator-hygiene factor relationships as predictor variables on CSR perceptions of their favorite brands. According to the regression results (R2=42.4%; F-ratio=25/68 df), only "CSR as Motivator" is shown to have a significant effect (t-ratio=3.76; p=.0004) on CSR perceptions. Conversely, "CSR as Hygiene Factor" reveals insignificant results (t-ratio=1.51; p=.14) on CSR perceptions of the respondent's favorite brand. Further examination of the regression results among the three student groups reveal significant differences. Namely, only in the case of the undergraduate student group are the results (R2=50.8%; F-ratio=12.4/24 df) similar to the combined student pool; here only "CSR as Motivator" is shown to have a significant effect (t-ratio=2.67; p=.013) on CSR perceptions.
Students reported CSR perceptions among measured brands, ranging from slightly positive perceptions (Google: µ=4.35; Starbucks: µ=4.71) to more positive CSR perceptions (Kroger's: µ=5.07; P&G: µ=5.79). Regarding their favorite brand, CSR perceptions (µ=5.29) are significantly higher than those held towards either Starbucks (p=.002) or Google (p<.0001) though significantly lower than P&G (p<.01). Comparison of these results at each undergraduate, MBA, and EMBA level, we find similar results. For undergraduate students, in comparison to the CSR perceptions held toward their favorite brand, CSR perceptions (µ=5.14) are significantly higher than those held toward Google (µ=4.39; p=.01). For MBA students, their view of CSR of their favorite brand (µ=5.08) is significantly higher than CSR perceptions of Google (µ=4.48; p=.02) but significantly lower than P&G (µ=5.82; p<.01). Finally, EMBA students' CSR perceptions of their favorite brand (µ=6.09) in comparison with other measured brands, we find significantly higher perceptions of their favorite brand versus Google (µ=3.92; p<.0001) and Starbucks (µ=4.48; p<.002).
Class Discussions of Effects of CSR on Brand Relationships
As confirmed by the above survey results, most students are relatively unaware of the CSR initiatives undertaken by companies, including their favorite brands. Instead, students are more likely to be at least generally aware of CSR activities of their past or present employers. To further enrich what undergraduate marketing students learned from these discussions, they were offered a modest extra credit opportunity so those undergraduate students could uncover specific social responsibility initiatives of their favorite brand (e.g., Nike, Macy's, Target, Apple, Patagonia, Amazon. etc.). Seventeen students submitted the extra credit assignment at the beginning of the following class. This exercise stimulated additional discussion.
Overall, many students view social responsibility is an important business practice but believe that companies should refrain from using CSR activities or accomplishments in a marketing context. Communication is appropriate and important as long as it is fact-based and void of hyperbole. One prevailing sentiment across student groups is that whatever companies say they do regarding sustainability or helping others, it better be matched by their actions.
As expressed by a number of students, the business challenge is to walk the fine line of sharing the brand's contributions without appearing to be exploitive or raising concerns about the brand's underlying motivations. Some students expressed that they view CSR practices with skepticism and suspect that the business motivations can be driven either by desire for marketing demand generation or brand equity enhancement, as opposed to altruistic reasons.
Interestingly, even when CSR brand initiatives overlap with individual values, students were hesitant to say that they would be more loyal to the brand. While they have a greater appreciation of the brand, the overwhelming sentiment appeared to be that students would not support them more because of good deeds taken to help others. Rather students typically report that CSR might play a more minor positive role in brand choice but would not be a major determinant. This exploratory research does offer anecdotal evidence in support of CSR playing more of a hygiene factor role as students become increasingly aware of widespread CSR practices across many industries. Hence, some students spoke about how CSR is now expected and if it came to their attention that CSR was not being practiced, it would be grounds to no longer support a brand (i.e., hygiene factor effect).
It is commonplace for businesses to dedicate considerable time, effort, and financial resources to practice social responsibility. The objective of the classroom discussions was to learn and discuss how CSR efforts are viewed by students from a consumer's perspective. This study examines CSR perceptions and how CSR initiatives resonate among student groups. Specifically, the study empirically investigates the individual effects of CSR as a hygiene factor and as a motivator on CSR perceptions. The study provides partial evidence how individual views impact perceived social responsibility of the brand. Most revealing were student views on how raising awareness has potentially positive (although relatively minor) marketing effects of consumer attitudes and intended behaviors. Yet the paradox is that students do not want CSR exploits communicated in a marketing context. By undertaking this classroom exercise across a diverse group of Xavier students, I plan to use the insights I have gained to formulate a framework for how businesses can ethically communicate their social responsibility activities.
Brown, T. & Dacin, P.A. (1997). The company and the product: Corporate associations and consumer product responses. Journal of Marketing, 61(1), 68-84.
Herzberg, F., Mausner, B. & Snyderman, B. (1959). Motivation to Work. New York: John Wiley.
Lichtenstein, D.R., Drumwright, M.E. & Braig, B.M. (2004). The effect of corporate social responsibility on customer
donations to corporate-supported nonprofits", Journal of Marketing, 68 (4), 16-32.
Mackey, J. & Sisodia, R. (2013). Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business. Boston, Harvard
Business Review Press.
Table 1: Scale Items and Confirmatory Factor Analysis
|Lambda Loadingsa||Composite Reliability||Average Variance Extracted|
|This Brand includes charity in its business activities.||.83||___||___|
|This brand is involved with the local community.||.66||___||___|
|Local nonprofit organizations benefit from this brand's contributions.||.82||___||___|
|This brand is committed to using a portion of its profits to help nonprofit causes and events.||.85||___||___|
|This brand is involved in corporate giving.||.85||___||___|
|CSR as Motivator||___||.94||.85|
|I support this brand because they include charity in their business activities.||.91||___||___|
|My satisfaction with this brand is tied to its level of social responsibility involvement.||.91||___||___|
|I support the brand because it is involved in corporate giving.||.95||___||___|
|CSR as Hygiene Factor||___||.82||.61|
|I believe this brand that i support has an obligation to undertake community service activities.||.57||___||___|
|I would be dissatisfied with this brand if it was not involved in charitable corporate giving.||.86||___||___|
|I would stop supporting this favorite brand if they discontinued charity in their business activities.||.88||___||___|